Wednesday 2 January 2013

Ne'erday, a fine birthday for a Scotsman

Henry Collins 1905-1976
My grandfather, Henry Collins, was born 108 years ago today, on New Year's Day (Ne'erday) in Glasgow. He was the eldest of 9 children, and his parents got around to marrying two years later, shortly before the birth of his sister, Agnes. I remember him telling me that as child he spent a lot of time with his grandparents because there were so many younger children at home. I now know that at the time of the 1911 census they were all in the same household.

His grandfather, Thomas Cross, died at sea when Henry was 12 - I wrote about him in my most recent blog post for The National Archives, as part of the series 'My Tommy's War'.

The picture here is one of my favourites; I don't know exactly when it was taken, but I think it was around the time he married my grandmother, when he was only 18. They had eight children, two of whom died in childhood. My aunt Helen, known as Ella, was the eldest and the only girl, whose role was to help look after all her little brothers (who led her quite a dance!). Grandpa Henry was called up into the Royal Artillery in the Second World War, was captured and spent most of the war as a prisoner. He finally came home in 1946, and my youngest uncle, Charlie, was born in 1947, eight years after the previous child. Bearing in mind that Ella was 22 and still single at the time, I wonder how many people thought he was hers?

The Grandpa that I remember worked as a removal man, for Pickfords, and he did a lot of work at the US naval base at the Holy Loch on the Firth of Clyde. I have him to thank for my ability to pack really well; I don't know whether he taught my father, and I learnt in turn from him, or whether I have inherited some kind of 'packing gene'. Either way, it has proved very useful. Thanks, Grandpa.

I was the first of the Collins grandchildren, and for six years the only one, as a result of which I was completely spoiled by my grandparents, especially by him. Sadly, he died before my elder son, his first great-grandchild, was born. At his funeral his coffin was carried by his five sons and his son-in-law which was both  impressive and touching.

I always remember my Grandpa with great fondness, especially on his  birthday, when I always raise a glass to him as well as to the New Year. Slainthe Mhath.


1 comment:

  1. Audrey, Your love for your grandfather comes through in this post.

    Perhaps you can give Mr Geniaus and I a packing lesson when next we meet. :-))